Feeds:
Posts
Comments
See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

I am not much of a cook or a baker, for that matter, but I recently had results from a blood test that my cholesterol is high, so I turned to my mother-in-law.

“I seem to remember you made Papa muffins to help Jerry reduce his cholesterol,” I said.

“Yes, he’s the only person I know who reduced his cholesterol through diet,” she replied.

“Can I have the recipe?” Minga (that’s her grandma name) sent me a text with a picture of her recipe card.

Papa died in 2004, so it’d been a while since she had made his muffins, but my daughters all remember them fondly as a treat when they stayed at Minga and Papa’s house.

My first attempt was severely lacking. Once I found the Oat Bran cereal, I wasn’t sure what package meant. Was it like oatmeal that can be bought in individual packets? Thank goodness, Minga is only a text away for consultation.

“No, package means the whole box.”

The liquid to dry parts seemed uneven to me, but I followed the recipe. The muffins were dry and crumbly and difficult to eat.

Around the holiday season, I love pumpkin flavor, so I wondered how they would taste with pumpkin rather than bananas. Moister? I hoped.

A batch around Thanksgiving was good with the added pumpkin, but it wasn’t until Christmas Eve that I perfected the recipe. I only added 1 cup of flour, rather than 2 cups.

Today, New Year’s Eve, the batch is even better. I cut down on cooking time and added vanilla to the wet part. Yum! Yum!

Papa muffins will be a traditional holiday treat!

Recipe for Perfect Papa Pumpkin Muffins

1 box oat bran cereal
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 T baking powder
1 T baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
pinch of salt

Mix together

4 eggs
2 cups skim milk
1/3 cup oil
4 heavy squirts of honey
2 ripe bananas or 1 can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix wet parts and add to dry. Stir. Do not beat.
Line and spray muffin tins.
Bake at 400 degrees for 16 minutes or until brown.

Makes 24-28 muffins.

Anne Simon and Margaret Simon
Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle Kogan..

The Christmas rush has finally settled, and Charlie and I have found solace in the sofa with warm fleece blankets, a cup of tea, and a guilty pleasure rom com on Netflix. I needed this day of rest.

I did spend some time catching up on Cybils reading and doing laundry. There’s always laundry. But for the most part, I’ve taken it easy.

Thinking ahead to the new year coming, I love the idea that there is space for seeds to grow. On the Smack Dab in the Middle blogspot, Deb Calhoun wrote:

“Two days past winter solstice, when the days inch longer and the nights shorter, this is the time when imagination reignites. All that has been hidden, sleeping and growing in the dark Underland, begins to emerge. Tendrils of light shoot up like tiny seedlings poking their heads from the dark. They find light and see what the wind says.”

Deb Calhoun

Deb suggests we pay attention to the budding of imagination and creativity. Whenever I have the time to relax, I feel the energy of creativity. I wish I could cultivate it every day, but when lessons have to be made and the house has to be ready, I get weary and unimaginative.

Today I am off to visit my parents in Mississippi, but before this winter school break ends, I hope I find another day to rest and wait for new ideas to germinate.

A gathering of poetry can be found at Liz Steinglass’s site.

The Winter Poetry Swap has arrived. Our friend Tabatha Yeatts matches us up for a rich exchange of poetry inspired gifts. This year I was paired with Tricia Stohr-Hunt. This week I received her gift.

Tricia spent some time on my gift. That impresses me because these days, especially in December, time is precious and small. She cross-stitched my favorite line of poetry from Naomi Shihab Nye. Now to know this, she had to read my blog posts. Then design and stitch.

And to top it all off, she wrote a wonderful golden shovel using the line.

Golden Shovel for Advent

It is not the season of me or I.
nor the season of greed and want.
It is time for reflection, time to
prepare for the guest. We must be
ready to reach out to someone,
anyone who needs, anyone who
asks. Let us draw nearer to what makes
us whole. As the year crowns, it is music
that fills the air and our hearts with
expectation. Stars keep watch. My,
how they shine! Rejoice, for the Lord is coming.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2019

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Last week our gifted students in grades 4-6 went on a field trip that incorporated three activities. Each teacher’s group rotated through practicing for the Shadows Christmas play, visiting the Bayou Teche Museum, and going on a Poetry Walk.

Pelicans, a sculpture at Paul Allain’s Architecture office

The Poetry Walk took students through a sculpture garden, bayou side boardwalk, and a pocket park called Church Alley. I wanted the students to experience each space in a unique way. For the sculpture garden, we wrote a simple free verse poem of 15 words or less, along the boardwalk, a haiku form that reflected the theme of nature, and in the alley, a mask poem written in the voice of someone from the past.

At the museum, we learned interesting facts about the Bayou Teche and the founding of New Iberia. Frederick Duperier, a founding father, wanted a pathway from his home to the church, and later, the alley was used by nuns who lived in Mount Carmel, the Duperier’s former home.

Here’s a sampling of poems from my students.

Bayou Teche, a snake
slithering its way past us.
The Teche silent still.

Breighlynn, Bayou Teche haiku

Walking through an alley
a very dark, dark alley
to be lit up by
a beautiful church.
The dark dirt
of the alley
much darker than I thought
but a bit brighter
from my very own steps.

Breighlynn, Church Alley
Church Alley pocket park in downtown New Iberia.

The nuns, somber and solemn,
pass silently by my form.
They are hope, in a dark world.

Madison, Church Alley septercet

eyes big 
nose as big as an elephant
peeper sees everything
no matter mouse or bug

Landon, Sculpture poem

On the Bayou Teche
pelican in the distance
lily pads floating

Maddox, Bayou haiku

We celebrated these small poems with sharing time after each writing time. The students cheered for each other and enjoyed being poets paying attention to common places. Each poem was unique. The whole walk took about an hour with 20 minutes in each site. I recommend creating a poetry walk for your next field trip.

The poetry Friday Round up is hosted this week by Tanita at fiction, instead of lies.

Our Sunday night Poetry Swaggers group is posting today with a challenge from Molly Hogan. “This month, I invite you to reinvent the world around you (or one aspect of it) by shifting your lens to see the beauty in what at first seems to be ugly or unnoteworthy.”

Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so.

Naomi Shihab Nye, A Valentine for Ernest Mann

Molly quoted Naomi Shihab Nye who says,
“Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us,
we find poems.” All we need to do is shift our focus a bit to find beauty in the everyday, otherwise passed-over things.

I pass this dilapidated house often, yet after Molly’s prompt, I noticed the beauty of the plants justing up through the floor boards.

There are signs
on the door
fingerprints,
peeling paint.
We’ve been here,
so have they-
gone now
the way of time.

Margaret Simon, draft 2019
Steps to a house in New Orleans. I was struck by the pattern of color in the peeling paint.

The Smell of Morning

Sagging fog, thick on the morning,
captures the scent of my walk.

Someone is running the dryer
blowing Downy air.

Every morning, he smokes a cigar
on his front porch, white rocker, 
booted feet propped on the railing.
He waves and with it comes
a pungent smell of burning wood–a home scent.

Beneath my feet, pine needles crunch
releasing a breath of Christmas.
My mother would gather them
to mulch the flower beds for winter.

As I walk, I practice my deep
yoga breath, in, hold, out, hold,
pausing to savor the ordinary,
extraordinary scents of the day.

Margaret Simon, draft 2019

Be sure to visit the other Swaggers today to enjoy more beauty in the ugly.

Catherine Flynn: Reading to the Core

Heidi Mordhorst: My Juicy Little Universe

Linda Mitchell: A Word Edgewise

Molly Hogan: Nix the Comfort Zone

See other Spiritual Thursday posts today rounded up by Irene at Live Your Poem.

This is the last Spiritual Thursday post for 2019, so we are reflecting on our One Little Word for the year. This year I selected Grace.

Grace is a simple word
spoken in prayer,
blessing a child,
a gentle hug.

Grace soothes life’s bumps,
nudges our hearts to acceptance,
carries the weight of worry
and places it in Love’s hands.

Grace comes in new life,
a soft white kitten,
the rising sun
of the morning.

Grace endures.

Margaret Simon, draft, 2019

When 2019 began, our family had been blessed by the birth of Leo, my first grandson. His first birthday is on Saturday. When I see him now, he knows me; he reaches out to me and leans in for a kiss. There is nothing so full of grace than this.

In September, Thomas was born, my second grandson. And just when you think your heart is full, it opens up for more. His gentle smile and sweet coos bring pure Joy!

This fall I released my second middle grade novel, Sunshine, a sequel to Blessen. Birthing a new book can be scary, but Sunshine is surrounded by love. Her story is no longer mine. Her story, the story of Blessen and Harmony, is full of grace. Blessen and Harmony share their love of animals and adventure. Neither has had the ideal life, but they greet each day with a sense of joy. That is what I hope for myself and all of you.

Begin this day with gratitude in your heart, a smile on your face, and an openness to Grace!

Poetry Friday posts are all gathered by Bridget at wee words for wee ones.

Last weekend at NCTE I had a conversation with Laura Shovan and Chris Barton about novels-in-verse. We discussed briefly how novels-in-verse should be poetry rather than prose written to look like poetry. 

On my long travel day to NCTE, I read Margarita Engle’s novel-in-verse Soaring Earth. Margarita is a poet. Her novel reads like poems with the backdrop of her life experiences from late teen years to adulthood. In each verse, she was processing who she was and who she wanted to be. She rejects then embraces the culture of her life. She has to leave herself to find herself, and it’s all written in beautiful language of poetry. 

Margarita Engle, Soaring Earth


Currently I am reading White Rose by Kip Wilson. Once again, I put on the lens of a poet finding the elements of poetry as well as compelling story. Kip Wilson has successfully drawn me into the story of Sophie, a young adult resistor to Hitler’s Germany. The story takes me to the horrors of the early 40’s. I place myself into the shoes of a girl who knows it’s wrong to kill for any reason. She is keenly aware of what is happening in her country. She finds small joys, so we are not bombarded with terror. I am more than halfway through. I know what eventually happens, yet I keep reading. The lyrical rhythm of verse makes this incredible story a beautiful one.

February 20, 1943
A Golden Bridge

I have nothing
more to say,
Herr Mohr has nothing
more to ask,
and yet the next
time he summons
me, he throws
me a lifeline.

You can still save
yourself, Fraulein
Scholl.

Boom-boom,
boom-boom
.
A sliver of light enters
the room, and I’m certain
the entire world can hear
the pounding in my chest.

Tell me you were only
following your older
brother,

and I’ll recommend
setting you free.

My heart, beating
so confidently moments ago,
whimpers, withers, dies
but my voice gathers
courage:
Nein.

Kip Wilson, White Rose